This summer, between semi-productive sessions of learning about web development, I've been resorting to (ugh) daytime TV. Last year, when I actually had more time to watch the tube, I seem to remember noting a general lack of riveting, interesting, stimulating, or, how do you say... quality shows between the hours of 8 and 5 (not that what's on during primetime is much of an improvement). However, today my gauge of what constitutes bad TV soared to new, er, heights. In fewer than five minutes, I witnessed everything from the genetic testing industry mini-boom that is "Maury" (which, mind you, is interspersed with ads for paternity confirmation services - you know, target audience and all) to the abysmal filth of the WGN network's competitive dating shows. And it's not as if these shows are a rare occurrence. In fact, this trash-fest can occupy your entire afternoon. Come, join in the fun!

First up on the WGN lineup is "Elimidate." Start off with one guy and three young women. Three shallow conversations, two tongue tangos, and one barroom bikini contest later, only the most desirable (read: promiscuous) girl remains. Now granted, I'm giving this blanket impression of the show based on only one episode, but if the plotlines of subsequent shows vary too much from this basic formula, I'll eat my hat (along with several spark plugs). But the most astonishing aspect of this show isn't the ridiculous antics the girls are willing to partake in to win the guy's di... uh, heart. It's the fact that the "winning" girl seems to take her selection seriously, as if the guy's opinion was important, or his criteria meaningful. And it's not like the guy even tried to give the impression that he wasn't shallow, as he announced rather matter-of-factly that the next stage in the game was to visit the bikini store next door. The girls, however, wielded a great deal more hypocrisy, violating their self-proclaimed morals as they peeled of layers of clothing under the rationalization that it was just one step in the path toward a deep relationship. However, to be fair, one girl did refuse to try on a bikini for her distinguished male companion. She predicted right before the commercial break that she would be eliminated for that very reason (she was correct). You go girl! But I have to ask, what were you doing there in the first place?

Next comes "The Fifth Wheel," aptly titled but still occupying the same level of compost heap as its predecessor. Now I realize the analogy to cooking is an overused one for these types of shows, but the cliche fits so well that I really don't see that I have any choice.

Ingredients:
1 boisterous twenty-something goth guy who plays it "cool"
1 loud mouthed no holds barred wild-man raging alcoholic
2 pairs of breasts

Directions:
Mix ingredients in generic urban setting (or dude ranch, in a pinch). Simmer for 10 minutes, gradually removing articles of clothing (don't forget balloon-font "censored" icons when required). Add one suave, sweet, hopeless romantic who is more sensitive to the ladies than "the rest of these jerks". Observe reactions. Serve with techno music and hard liquor, and a side of bitchiness. Discard unused portion.

You get the idea. Friends, do we really want reality TV? Now don't get me wrong, in many ways I'm a typical male (as testimony from certain person(s) will corroborate). I think my girlfriend is beautiful and sexy, and I like to gaze at her, umm, hands. But come on, even this crap hit my threshold of male decency within a few short minutes.

Our final fling, "Change of Heart," attempts to maintain some semblance of credibility by ushering in old flames to see if anything catches (or violently explodes) after being tampered with by the show's expert love meddlers. OK fine, no credibility, but at least these people used to care for each other, or so I'm told by the host, who looks an awful lot like the guy who was left without a bedmate from the last show. At any rate, each side gets to tell their version of the story. But whenever the whooping and hollering from the studio audience (or computer generated audience; it's really difficult to say) becomes so loud as to drown out the sexual innuendos of the "contestants," the Date-Cam steps in to save the day, and spill the beans on each partner's infidelities. Unfortunately, the showing of this objective footage elicits more "Ooh-aah"s and "Oh no you di-in't"s than you can shake an uprooted California redwood at from the crowd (which consists of people who *really* don't have anything better to be doing - I'm serious, they don't). The only amusing part of the episode came at the end, when the guy revealed that he did indeed have a change of heart, and upon turning lustfully to his new love, was shot down in a glorious cinematic fireball as she revealed to him with a cute little smirk (and a big card that said "NO!") that she was not interested in continuing the relationship. In desperation, he glanced back at his old girlfriend, who barely had time to hold up her "change of heart" card before snuggling up to her new "yes"-man. KER-BLOOOAAAAUM!!!

So that, my friends, is the story of how I wasted a couple hours of my life (and equally more time writing this warning for you). So please, instead of turning on the boob tube, do yourself a favor. Go do something more productive (and fun). Like kissing snakes! Yes, you should go kiss and hug SOME POISONOUS SNAAAAKES! Ahem.